If this is the year you're going to take up pickleball, here's some insight from someone who recently has:
Over the years I've dabbled in sports like tennis and racket ball, but walking and hiking have traditionally been the basis of my exercise regime. I dislike fitness rooms but really enjoy spirited sports like tennis. Approaching my 70th birthday, I found myself looking for a social activity to engage in for the next years as well as keep my fitness level up as a Royal Canadian Marine search and rescue volunteer. I found myself seeking something that would make the heart pump a little faster - and maybe even fire up the old competitive spirit. I was looking for something as engaging as tennis, but a little easier on the elbow, shoulder and joints in general. That's when I discovered pickleball.
If you’re between 9 and 90, this could be your game.
Pickleball is simple and inexpensive. Here's how you can check it out:
Find a court nearby. They’re everywhere. Most in the Pacific Northwest are indoors at schools and recreation centres. Bring court shoes and show up on pickleball night. Most rec centres provide paddles and balls for a drop in fee of around $3 for a 2 hour session. Some people keep playing with loaners. If you get hooked like I did, you'll buy your own paddle. They range in price from $35 for a simple wooden one to $150 for one with a carbon fibre face and aluminum core. After 2 years I still use my 2 for $29 wooden paddles.
I have, however, just upgraded my cheapo bigbox runners to the coolest ever Yonex court shoes from Rackets and Runners. The right shoes, properly fitted, have significantly improved my game and minimized wear and tear on my legs. A little flashy in appearance maybe, but they fit my wider feet perfectly and give me just the support and agility I need on the court. In my experience, the right footwear is more important to the game than a fancy high end paddle, though some of the people I play with have been quick to upgrade, and they give the new graphite composite rackets great reviews.
Good shoes, a paddle & ball, and a few enthusiastic players, and you're ready to hit the court. I've become a big fan of this low impact, low risk, lively racket sport. Chasing a slower moving, wiffle-like ball, across a court almost the size of a tennis court, retains the competitive edge, while reducing the intensity. Up on the Sunshine Coast, my weekly pickleball night has become part of my social fabric. This year I look forward to playing in my first tournament. It's no surprise at all that pickleball is repeatedly described as the fastest growing sport in North America.